Sometimes because it is part of a larger trip, or because you are just spending the weekend somewhere, you only have limited time in a city full of things to do. Without planning ahead it can be daunting and lead to you seeing practically nothing.
As part of a large New England trip in 2017 my husband and I spent just one day in Boston. Based on that experience I am sharing my thoughts on how to spend one day in Boston as a tourist.
Getting To And Around Boston
We were staying at a hotel in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and looking to get into and out of the city with relative ease. We took the Amtrak Downeaster from Exeter Station into Boston. In Boston the station was at the TD Garden. This was simple and inexpensive and prevented us from having to drive and park in the city. We were able to walk from the TD Garden to Boston Commons (about 3/4 of a mile) where we planned to start our day.
Of course driving into Boston is an option but remember that just like most cities you are going to have traffic, and parking can be expensive and limited in key areas.
If you are flying into Boston than Logan International Airport is going to be your main option. Located in Boston the airport is connected to the T (Boston’s subway) so you can get from the airport to other major parts of the city.
We found the city to be extremely walkable. For distances that were too far to walk we used the T with has an extensive network of stops all over the city. Of course there are always taxis and ride-share as well. Or you can drive yourself around town.
Once we arrived in Boston it was about 9am and we had a full itinerary for the day. The first item on our list was the historical walking path that runs through the city and connects all of the major colonial historical attractions, The Freedom Trail. The trail is literally a bricked pathway that runs through the city. Embedded in a sidewalk or other pavement. I highly recommend taking advantage of this trail and all it has to offer. Many of the experiences along the way are free and you will see some truly landmark locations. Plus you can’t get lost!
Find a map of the trail before you visit or grab one at one of the visitor centers along the way so you know what is coming next.
You can even sign up for paid guided tours of the trail.
Some of the buildings along the trail you can enter some you can not. Throughout the day there are also tour guides, lectures, and performances that go on at many of the sites.
We started at the Boston Commons which was a great starting location as it is one end of the trail, there is even a visitors information booth there. This is also one of the ends of the Black History Trail that runs through the Beacon Hill neighborhood. After a peak at the Massachusetts State House and the park that is the Commons itself we were off following the Freedom Trail.
Stoping at Granary Burial Ground we paid our respects at the graves of John Hancock, Samual Adams, Paul Revere, the victims of the Boston Massacre and even “Mother Goose.
We continued past the first public school and a few other sites until we reached the Old State House behind which is the site of the Boston Massacre and a memorial in the ground to it.
At this point in our day we branched out to other activities after which we returned to the Freedom Trail picking it up at Old North Church the site of Paul Revere’s historic ride. Here we happen upon a free lecture being given by a costumed tour guided. Seated in the church pews he discussed the building and the history of Paul Revere. This was a very nice addition to our visit.
We continued on and made it to our last stop on the Freedom Trail, the Bunker Hill Monument. There is also a Battle of Bunker Hill Museum here but we did not visit it.
All of the sites on the trail were interesting and walking the trail gave us a peak at a lot of Boston. I highly recommend adding the Freedom Trail to your day. If you plan to walk a good portion of the trial it will take up about half of your day.
I would recommend devoting the second half of your day to visiting a museum or two. Boston has a bunch of museums to choose from. These are some of the most popular options and ones I would recommend seeing if you only have a short amount of time.
- John F. Kennedy Presidential Library – This museum and it’s library are the living legacy of President Kennedy. Visit the museum to learn all about the history of the Kennedy presidency and to see exhibits like a replica oval office and some of Mrs. Kennedy’s dresses. The museum also offers guided tours.
- Museum of Fine Arts Boston – For Art lovers this is where you will want to spend your time. The museum has wide ranging collections from all over the world.
- Boston Tea Party Museum & Ship – Enjoy and participate in reenacting the Boston Tea Party with costumed tour guides, a replica ship, and a museum. There are also a lot of kid friendly elements here.
- Museum of Science – This is the museum that we visited specifically to see the Science of Pixar exhibit which shows the process of computer animation and the science behind it. As Pixar fans the exhibit was a lot of fun and I would recommend it to fans or those traveling with children. The rest of the museum is your typical city science museum mostly aimed at families with children.
Boston is a city that LOVES it’s sports. After a day spent exploring history and museums a great addition to your day in Boston is to take in a game. We choose to add a Red Sox game into our afternoon. After walking the first half of the Freedom Trail and then visiting the Museum of Science. We took the T over to Fenway Park and took in about half of the game before heading off to complete the Freedom Trail. An evening game would have been ideal to fit everything in so keep that in mind while scheduling.
Fenway Park & The Red Sox – The iconic old school baseball stadium was a fantastic addition to our time in Boston. Even though neither my nor my husband are big baseball fans as a general sports fan he wanted to see Fenway. The Red Sox are something so distinctly Boston that it was a really great addition to our day. The stadium was very easy to get to and if you don’t want to take in a game they offer stadium tours while games are not ongoing. There were also tons of bars and dining options right next to the stadium. It very much felt like it was a part of the neighborhood.
TD Garden, The Celtics & The Bruins – For basketball and hockey fans this is another great option to take in a game. It is also a much more climate controlled option. Plus the train station is a part of the TD Garden so if you took the train into the city it makes for a perfect end to your day.
There is plenty of great food to eat in Boston. Our lunch was just some hot dogs and snacks at the baseball game. But for dinner while walking back across the river from Bunker Hill we stumbled upon an Italian restaurant that we loved. Fillipo was a great find for us we loved the food and the atmosphere of a classic Italian restaurant was a lot of fun. There were photos on the wall of the atrium of all the notable people who had dined here including a few Presidents which leads me to believe this place is very popular. It was a fun addition to our evening and I recommend a meal here. http://www.filippori.st
Boston is a great city to spend the day in and it is certainly on my list for a return visit!
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